Young African Leaders Speak Out: 2019 YALI Tuesdays

Fourteen of the 25 Mandela Washington Fellows at UW-Madison this summer are deeply involved in ensuring health for their countries and communities. From a variety of professions, including physicians and nurses, journalists and entrepreneurs, community outreach workers and microbiologists, they all have a passion to provide health for all.  The Fellows, who are visiting as part of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) hosted by the U.S. Department of State, will share the innovative ways they are reaching their goals in a series of four YALI Global Health Seminars: July 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 5 to 6:15 p.m. at the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave. (The HSLC is easily accessible via the #80 bus.)

Three to four scholars will speak during each seminar, giving 15 minute presentations about their work, with time for questions following.

The evenings will explore a series of topics:

July 2: Ensuring women’s health

Room 1345, HSLC

Speakers will include:

  • Juliana Temitope Mustapha, a nutritionist and master’s student from Niger. A nutritionist by profession, this scholar is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Public Health, specifically in reproductive health, at the Pan African University under the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, funded by the African Union. Earlier this year, she researched “Factors affecting the uptake of modern contraceptives in Zinder, Niger republic” for her data collection.
  • Idris Ola, a physician from Nigeria. In medical school, this scholar developed a strong passion for women’s health following loss of a close family friend to breast cancer. He also clinically observed many unreported cases of cancer-related deaths and increasing cancer incidents and deaths among Nigerian women due to poor awareness, late hospital presentations and poor health care provisions. This motivated him to start the Women’s Cancer Prevention and Support for African Society, which offers cancer education, screening and supportive services to underserved women. Within the last year, he has offered community-based cancer education and screening to 3,722 women in Lagos and Oyo States. He helped six women access cancer treatments in Lagos and raised more than $9,000 to further his cancer control work in Nigeria. He also helped develop 2018-2021 State Cancer Control Plan as a member of Oyo State Cancer Control Committee.
  • Christina Van Hooreweghe, a journalist in Democratic Republic of the Congo. This scholar is a journalist who addresses gender and sexual-based violence through media in the eastern part of DRC. She is actively involved in several organizations that promote human and women’s rights: Congolese Women Media Association (AFEM) to promote women’s rights; Future Hope Africa to promote the development of young girls, as well as the fight against global warning and the preservation of the environment; and ComChaMA, which translates to “Let’s start the change now.” She established ComChaMA in 2017 to defend of human rights, health and the promotion of entrepreneurship among vulnerable people, and the defense of democratic values. She chose to be a journalist to raise the voice of voiceless and she volunteers to help others to build a better society.

July 9: Responding to challenges

Room 1309, HSLC

Speakers will include:

  • Helena Hailu Fantaye, a physician from Ethiopia. This scholar is a physician with a public health specialty serving as the director general at the National Blood Bank Services and as a member of the executive committee of the Federal Ministry of Health. She created and serves as commander-in-chief of a national disaster medical assistance team made up of more than 100 professionals from different specialties. She has established a national poison center and is a committee member of African Network for Poison Control Centers. She has researched quality improvement, created two trauma centers, and established mutual collaborations with institutions abroad including the CDC, WHO and Ministries of Health in Israel and Japan. She also led the emergency response during acute watery diarrhea and Ebola outbreaks and distributed 2,000 ambulances to district health centers.
  • Fati Mahmoud Wattigi, a nurse from Ghana. This scholar works as a mental health nurse in the Accra Psychiatric Hospital where she brings the mentally ill to full or partial potential by using recovery models, counseling and psychotherapy techniques. She is also trained in rehabilitation and facilitates Narcotics/Alcoholic Anonymous meetings using the twelve-step program.
  • Folajogun Victoria Akinlami, a broadcaster and entrepreneur in Nigeria. A seasoned broadcaster, production and presentation is her area of expertise. She combines her training in English language, communication and journalism and more than eight years of experience in helping resolve issues in her workplace with her passion for human protection. She is currently the producer and presenter of “Beyond Challenges,” a program that celebrates individuals living with disabilities. The program helps encourage both disabled and able-bodied people, and is especially encouraging to disabled people whose parents still hide at home, which is the common practice in Ondo State. She is the CEO of Differently Abled Foundation that recently clothed 300 deaf children. As a person living with disability, she chose this line of work so she can help the youth who also live with disabilities.
  • Chimba Sanga, a physician and author from Zambia. This scholar is a medical doctor and registrar at Chipata Central Hospital in the general and orthopedic surgery department. He also founded the non-profit organization called Medical Myth-Busters Outreach (MMBO) and wrote the book, “A Guide to Common Medical Myths in Zambia.” Early in his career, he was stunned that some patients would deny life-saving treatment because of myths they believed in. Many would choose to die rather than accept life-saving treatment based on these deadly myths. This prompted him to establish MMBO to use as vehicle to expose and clarify deadly medical myths through door-to-door counseling in rural areas of Chipata and surrounding districts. He published his book about medical myths in order to reach and educate as many people as possible in Zambia. He has chosen this path of community engagement and his profession because he desires to save lives at all costs.

July 16: Working toward equitable, sustainable health

Room 1309, HSLC

Speakers will include:

  • Olivia Nzisa Liku, a physician from Kenya. This scholar is a doctor passionate about providing quality health care for patients in the public health sector. With the belief that reliable data is the cornerstone of good decisions,  she supports the implementation of health programs at the Kenya Ministry of Health by collecting and analyzing data that decision makers rely on when allocating resources. Since January 2018, she has led an extensive survey covering all 9,000 public health facilities across Kenya.  The data has been used to inform Kenya’s vision of Universal Health Coverage by 2022, a major goal for its current presidential administration. She continues to impact her community by providing real-time data that leaders can rely on when developing national policies.
  • Alma-Nalisha Anele Cele, a physician from South Africa. This scholar works as a doctor in public practice as she completes the requirements of her training. She recently completed of two years of grueling training at one of the biggest hospitals in the world. She believes health is an expression of the socio-economic difficulties people face and that there is a need for a new generation of doctors to answer the most concerning public health questions. Her  work continues to be important in a country that carries burdens of disease and outdated approaches and thinking to alleviate these burdens.
  • Brenda Kawala, a physician and advocate from Uganda. This scholar is a medical doctor working in the Kakira Sugar Limited Hospital. She is the Deputy Secretary General of the National Executive Committee at Uganda Medical Association (UMA) where she advocates for increased health financing towards drugs, supplies and salaries. She is also the publicity secretary at the Association of Uganda Women Medical Doctors. She is motivated by a desire to live in a healthy and happy community and by her passion to uphold the face of her profession.
  • Semira Hassen Ebrahim, a medical intern from Ethiopia. This scholar is a medical intern at Addis Ababa University, College of Health Science. An aspiring psychiatrist, she chose the field after noticing that many patients with physical ailments were knowledgeable about their illness and were seeking help, while with patients with mental illness, there was a lack of awareness about their disorders. She has worked on projects that seek to create awareness about different mental illnesses and how to address them by giving presentations at different platforms, creating support groups for those going through depression and working on providing psychosocial support along with other psychiatrists at a juvenile detention center based in Addis Ababa.

July 23: Preventing disease

Room 1335, HSLC

Speakers will include:

  • Mohammed Dunbar, a research officer from Liberia. This scholar is both a candidate for a Master’s Degree (MPH) in Epidemiology and a research officer in the Department of Planning, Research and Development at the Liberian Ministry of Health. He serves as Epi-Bulletin assistant at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia. At the first annual Emmet A. Dennis Scientific Conference, he presented an abstract entitled “Vaccination Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices of Parents/Caregivers in Liberia” which was accepted for manuscript development and publication. He currently supervises data collection, preparation and publication on the status of disease  prevention and control in Liberia. Working as a research officer has enabled him to gain more hands-on experience from senior colleagues in identifying challenges the sector faces, as well as finding solutions for its improvement.
  • Lusubilo Malakbungu, a microbiologist from Tanzania. This scholar, a microbiologist whose background also includes laboratory medicine, has worked in a clinical laboratory diagnosing disease-causing pathogens in visiting patients to ensure proper treatment. He is proud to work in this health care profession since at least 70 percent of all treatment decisions at the hospital are decided by proper laboratory diagnosis. He now takes on a leadership position, supervising all laboratories in the entire region. He has prepared training materials, including for bio-safety and bio-security training, for laboratory staff so that they can take full charge of their safety while at work.
  • Ass Momar Lo, a journalist from Senegal. Trained at CESTI, one the most prestigious schools of journalism in West Africa, this scholar is a journalist/broadcaster/writer/reporter/blogger. He has been working with international organizations for five years, including Marie Stopes International, where he facilitated lectures and workshops about sexuality and HIV/AIDS prevention, and the NGO Réseau Siggil Jigeen to promote girls and women’s rights through exhibitions and panels. Last year he produced reports and interviews that contributed to West Africa Democracy Radio’s development. Currently, he freelances for VOA Afrique, where he has produced dozens of reports. His goal is to become an independent journalist through radio broadcasting.

This is the fourth consecutive year UW-Madison has hosted 25 Mandela Washington Fellows who are part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The initiative was launched in 2010 to support young Africans as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

The fellows visiting Madison aspire to work in all levels of government, regional or international organizations, or other publicly minded groups and think tanks. During their month-long stay, they will learn from Wisconsin’s scholars and professionals and visit government entities, non-profit organizations and businesses across the state.

The fellows, who are 25- to 35-years-old, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, community and countries.

The Global Health Institute works with the African Studies Program and other campus units to plan the curriculum for the fellows.